There aren't many places outside of California where folks drive an old convertible year-round. In the south, they're often stored through the summer when it's too hot, and here in Minnesota they're put away in the winter when it's too cold. Or just as often, when the streets are too salty.
This is my early '69 TR6. In 2018 it has about 75,000 miles on it and running well. It has an unknown early history, bouncing around different members of my family in Oregon and California before ending up with me in Minnesota. It was rebuilt at some point maybe in the '80s with a paint change from yellow to red, seats recovered and door panels replaced with home-made versions, and other fixes that were more shade-tree than original. I've been gradually fixing mechanical systems and doing a sort of rolling restoration as I go.
Log of work done so far.
One of the cool things about the TR6, especially considering it was a fairly budget-oriented sports car, is that it came with a real wood dashboard like more upscale British cars, featuring a nice walnut veneer. They really put the board in dashboard.
One known weak area in the TR6 design is the front spindles. They aren't weak enough to be a safety issue, but they do flex a bit given enough lateral force. The flex is enough to push the brake pads away from the disk, so the next push on the brake pedal is soft, because part of the travel is pushing the pads back in place.
The early TR6 had an interior courtesy light at the back of the gearbox tunnel just a year of the cargo shelf. Mine was missing when I got it, but after a few drives home in the dark I realized that it would be really nice to be able to see the dashboard and the ignition switch in the dark.
Reproduction parts are all available to replace this, but the mounting plinth is $50, and I found these bright little 12v LED light bars at Menard's, so why not make one?
I'm still hoping/planning to rebuild my engine and gearbox this summer, but waiting until after school graduation and visiting family to get a little driving time in while I can.
In the meantime, i'm getting some nice drives in and doing a few smaller projects that i've been waiting for warmer weather for, and in some cases using parts that have been sitting in boxes for 6 months because i got them during some fall sales.
First up was the new cover for the convertible top. The car never had one when i got it, so i bought one when there was a sale last year.
The original rear shock absorbers on a TR6 are kind of a throwback design, as they're lever shocks and not the more common modern tube shocks used on pretty much every other car since the '60s.
There are lots of good arguments for replacing the seats in a TR6 with those from a Mazda Miata or similar more modern design. New foam and covers are expensive, and upholstery is difficult to get perfect. But the seats in a '69 are unique, the only year they were used, so i thought it was worth trying to rebuild mine rather than replace. Although they don't recline like later seats, i like the high back and the tilting headrest, and i figured that with the correct padding back in them they should be pretty comfortable too.
This is what i started with:
Like with the seat covers and almost all of the interior, it seems like the door panels were remade at some point by a handy and thrifty home rebuilder. They might have looked great when new, but seem to have shrunk a bit, and were getting warped. They also didn't have the pockets that the originals had, which would be useful.
The engine on the TR6 was unusually noisy, especially on acceleration, with sort of a slapping popping noise in time with the speed. I eventually figured out it was a bad exhaust manifold gasket, and now i can pick out that sound from a mile away - it seems to be especially common on Ford trucks and SUVs.
I've done a fair amount of other cleaning work around the engine, but had never really dismantled the top end past the carbs, when we rebuilt them. Everything was pretty crusty under there.
My TR6 has the original steering wheel, again a unique part of the 1969 model year. It is (i think) the only year of TR6 that had holes in the spokes. Starting in 1970 the spokes had slots instead, which are apparently less likely to trap your fingers while you're driving.
It's a 15" wheel and thin, which is in keeping for the time, but often replaced with a smaller diameter, thicker wheel more like modern wheels. While I admit that an extra inch or two of leg room under the wheel would be welcome, i like the original too much to replace it.